Dennis Whittle, Founder and CEO of Global Giving, writes in the Huffington Post on Thursday 7th October that ‘IATI has made much more progress than I imagined possible’ after leaving last week’s conference ‘encouraged by the possibilities and by the people working on it.’
Like many who have seen accountability initiatives come and go with varying levels of success, Whittle has been asking some important questions about the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). It is encouraging to see that with past experience, expertise, and a drive toward government accountability, robust aid reporting systems are already taking shape and look set to change the way aid is delivered for good.
A presentation made by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the IATI meeting particularly inspired Whittle. The UNDP was failing to track aid money from donor to project level: When money didn’t come through ‘it was hard to tell if the problem was in the implementation or in budget availability. And if the problem was the budget, was it because the donors had not paid up, or was it because of some delay at headquarters?’
The UNDP built a system which makes the flow of funds available in near real-time to UNDP staff. The system is also open-access; ‘The result is that anyone in the world – beneficiaries, recipient governments, aid workers, donors, and taxpayers can all see where billions of dollars of UN trust fund money is coming from, and where it is going, what it is for, and when it arrives.’
The UNDP have demonstrated both the necessity and possibility of publishing timely aid information which is available to all. The IATI is currently finalising a Standard to enable the delivery of aid information in a timely and useful manner for greater aid effectiveness.